So What’s Your Opinion?
If having a book published or getting your name in print means having a chance to tell people what is on your mind, then the internet has blown away all the obstacles to telling people what you think. Give anyone a computer, an internet connection, and the opportunity and he or she can become an authority on anything.
Well, really, it is social media that has created the noisy conversations all around us. As an interested observer of Facebook the last three and a half years I have a bunch of people who have invited me to be their friend and now I get to read what they think. It is much more fun to watch Facebook conversations than it used to be to receive those forwarded emails. You know the ones I mean, those emails we used to receive that told us to “Please forward to everyone important in your life so they don’t . . . “ then fill in the blank with some urban legend about bad things happening to people or some politician lying.
Now, numerous opportunities to “Like” this or that picture or poster or saying come scrolling across our Facebook feed. You probably have had this happen to you, it has happened to me, one simple “click” on a picture and you can fall into a rabbit’s hole of Americana played out in photos, graphics, and quotes. From pets to people to church signs to obscenities, they are all just a seductive click or two away.
What I find really interesting are the political rants disguised as opinions that march across the Facebook feed with all horns blaring. Since we are in an election year and we are moving into the time for the Democratic and Republican conventions, the FB feeds are lit up!
Truth doesn’t matter all that much to some people. I take that back, it matters a lot to them and that’s what they’re taking the opportunity to express their mind. Everyone has an opinion. It is often just that their opinion often is not all that grounded in truth.
Obama is a socialist. He is a Muslim. He is Satan incarnate. He, singled-handedly, is bringing our nation to an apocalypse. Obama brings doom.
Romney is an out-of-touch multi-millionaire who is buying the presidency. He cheats on taxes. He is a Mormon. He doesn’t care about the working man or woman. Elect him and children will starve. Romney ignores the poor.
I could go on and on and on. You’ve seen the rants, haven’t you?
I resist the urge to correct misinformation, unfair attacks, and argue in the comment thread. It gets too personal, too quickly, and I’m not sure dialogue truly is welcomed. I find myself reading with a kind of morbid fascination grounded in the loss of civilized conversation, verbal train wrecks, and veiled racism or classism.
Perhaps we should develop the equivalent of verbal smiley faces. Could we all agree on one or two word responses? Think of the clarity and the simplicity of one-word replies to Facebook opinion rants!
The problem is we couldn’t agree on the words. There’d be too many opinions.
I am open to suggestions for a system to respond. So, I’m just wondering, what’s your opinion on all these online opinions?